Don’t say he’s foreign

Here’s an odd bit of language usage.

What qualifies something or someone to be of a "foreign persuasion"? In its most literal interpretation, you would expect it to refer to someone being influenced by a foreigner, a foreign nation, or otherwise something foreign. After some googling, it seems clear that that is in fact also how many people use it.

However, the phrase has another usage, too, and an odd one at that. For some people, it’s a roundabout way of referring to foreign (and foreigner?), as when writing about "films of the independent and foreign persuasion", or the "foreign persuasion in NASCAR" (referring to foreign-born drivers). Can NASCAR drivers be persuaded to become foreign-born?

In those contexts, "foreign persuasion" doesn’t refer to any particular opinions (as in Christian persuasion), or people who have been persuaded into believing or doing something. It’s simply used as a tortuous alternative to foreign.

When did foreign become a derogatory word in English?

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